The New York Rangers are finally playing some consistent hockey as they are now winners of three straight games with a combined total of 18 goals throughout nine periods. Those are some unheard of numbers, especially for a team that was ranked 30th in the entire NHL for goals for, just two and a half weeks ago. The Rangers also couldn't have picked a better time as the regular season is coming to an end with the playoffs right around the corner. It's not always about how you start, but how you finish.
The Rangers were able to top the New Jersey Devils this afternoon in front an absolutely rowdy Garden crowd by a score of 4-1, which effectively eliminated any chances the Devils had of making the post season. It sure was a great feeling especially after the Devils knocked the Rangers out of the Eastern Conference Finals just last year. The revenge was even sweeter.
Ryan Callahan got things started rather quickly as he caught both Martin Brodeur and his defensemen off guard, and stuffed home the games first goal just 34 seconds in. Carl Hagelin would make a great play in the corner just prior to the goal, as he fought off two attackers and got the puck to Callahan. With Hagelin looking as if he still had the puck, Brodeur immediately slid over to his left post, but Callahan jammed one home on the wide open net. That goal was absolutely enormous, as it got the crowd going early, and gave the Rangers quite a spark for the rest of the game.
After a slew of penalties going to both teams in the following minutes, Derek Stepan would be the recipient of the Rangers second goal, which gave them a two goal cushion. Ryan McDonagh was the shooter of the original shot, but as it came in on goal Stepan got a piece of it, and deflected it under the arm of Brodeur. That's one of many big goals Derek Stepan has scored this year, and he's also having one heck of a year as well.
Things got a little chippy for the Devils as both Ryan Carter and Matt D'Agostini took undisciplined penalties late in the period, including one which was abuse of an official. However, even though the Rangers played a strong game at even strength, their power play was very lackluster at best today. Fast forwarding to the second period, Taylor Pyatt would give the Rangers a 3-0 lead off of a beautifully placed shot from the high slot. Brad Richards also made a spectacular pass to give Pyatt the space to load up the cannon. Richards is quietly coming back into his form from last season, it couldn't have been at a better time.
Ryan Callahan would close things off for the Rangers with his second goal of the game, and wound up being the Rangers only power play goal of the game. Brad Richards picked up the primary assist on the goal as well, which set Callahan up for a nice chip shot on the left post. Brodeur sprawled out in an attempt to poke check the puck, but Callahan was a second quicker. Unfortunately for Henrik Lundqvist, he wasn't able to gather up his second shutout of the season as Andrei Loktionov spoiled it with just under seven minutes left in regulation.
The Rangers would eventually go on to win the game, and create a three point cushion between themselves and the Winnipeg Jets. It also ties the Rangers with the Ottawa Senators for seventh place, but they currently have a game in hand. Anything can happen in these next few days, as the Rangers till have a realistic shot at the fifth seed. We'll have to wait and see the outcome when Saturday rolls around.